6 Mysterious Ship Disappearances
This is a guest post by Jason Godfrey.
When reading up about shipping, we tend to focus on the more industrial aspects of it. And, while it is essential to learn about logistics advancements and proper shipping procedures, we shouldn’t forget that shipping has its own set of funny stories and mysterious occurrences. So, to help highlight this, we will use this article to cover the six mysterious ship disappearances that have baffled us to this day.
Mysterious Ship Disappearances
The following ship disappearance offers no final explanation of what happened. In modern times too, disaster can happen. But it is relatively easy to analyze them and see what the error was. This isn’t the case with the mysteries that we are going to cover. On the one hand, this may leave us dissatisfied, as there is no conclusion or a safety lesson to learn. But, on the other hand, it leaves a ton of room for speculation and imagination as to what actually happened on these voyages.
#1 HMS Terror and Erebus, The Franklin Expedition
Let’s start off our list with a true story of conquest, courage, and ultimate downfall. HMS Terror and Erebus were English ships outfitted for the 1845 Franklin Expedition. Sir John Franklin, an experienced arctic explorer and navy officer, was to complete a crossing of the Northwest Passage and gather data about the Canadian Arctic while doing so. At the time, this expedition was seen as the crown jewel of the British Crown. The idea was for it to showcase the technological dominance of the British empire and the unyielding spirit of the British people. The builders outfitted the ships with steam engines to make the sale of icy waters easier. On 19 May 1845, the ships sailed from Greenhithe, Kent. And during August 1845, they were last seen entering Baffin Bay.
The disappearance of HMS Terror and Erebus has been fuel for fiction for ages to come. While we know that the ships became icebound fairly early in their expedition, there wasn’t much to go on as to what happened to the crew. While there were massive search efforts between 1848 and 1866, it was only on 8 September 2014 that explorers were able to find the wreckages.
#2 Andrea Gail and the Perfect Storm
It was September 1991. Andrea Gail, a 72-foot-long-liner, went out for the last fishing session of the season. Its crew of six men was all experienced fishermen that had ample knowledge of the local waters. But, it soon became evident that no experience or skill is enough once the perfect storm strikes. The combination of weather factors – creating 100-foot waves, strong winds, and impossible odds – soon destroyed Andrea Gail. Neither the ship nor the crew was ever found, even though there were numerous search and rescue operations.
#3 The USS Porpoise
The USS Porpoise was a seasoned brig that was instrumental in various explorations. In October 1837, the Government even used USS Porpoise to hunt pirates. But alas, all that experience with pirate hunting and expeditions wasn’t enough to save it. In 1854, 69 men sailed USS Porpoise to carry out a survey of the South Sea Islands. During the sail, somewhere between China and Taiwan, the ship went into a deep fog. After that, no one saw it again. The main suspicion is that a local typhoon wrecked the vessel into the coast. But, again, we have no conclusive idea.
#4 HMS Sappho
The primary use of HMS Sappho was to fight the slave trade off the coast of West Africa. During 20 years of service, the crew managed to stave off quite a few slave ships. But, unfortunately, mistakes happened. In 1857, the crew of HMS Sappho accidentally boarded an American ship. Seeing that this caused a diplomatic crisis, the British Government ordered the ship to sail to Australia. While Sappho did reach Cape Town without much trouble, it soon disappeared. Neither the vessel nor the 147 crew members were found.
#5 The Merchant Royal
Captain John Limbrey commanded and sailed the Merchant Royal for the British Crown. In September 1641, captain John sailed the ship into a most expensive shipwreck. Namely, while returning from Mexico, Merchant Royal carried 100,000 pounds of gold, 400 bars of silver, and an astonishing amount of jewels. Bad weather combined with a malfunction of ship pumps caused the Merchant Royal to sink quickly. Fortunately, the captain and the crew survived. But the valuable cargo was lost and has remained lost to this day.
#6 USS Cyclops
When it comes to ships that managed to disappear, we cannot help but mention USS Cyclops. This was a steel-hulled fuel ship that the US Navy used for carrying coal and other supplies. On its final journey in 1918, 300 US sailors sailed Cyclops from Rio de Janeiro. Their cargo was 10,800 tons of manganese. In the beginning, the sail went smoothly. But, in March 1918, they sailed into the Bermuda Triangle. The ship then mysteriously vanished. There were no distress calls or reports of bad weather. As you can imagine, countless theories surfaced as to why this happened. But, to do this day, neither the crew nor the ship was found.
There are many reasons why most mysterious ship disappearances happened during the 19th and 20th centuries. During these times, ships were strong enough to support long-distance travel, but not well equipped enough to do so safely. Today we can easily learn how to prepare the vessels for travel or research how to properly pack items from nycministorage.com. But, in those days, sea travel was still in development. Remember, most of the sea world was still uncharted in the 19th century. This is why the journeys of these argonauts were so astonishing.
Unfortunately, even with modern technologies, shipping can still be quite dangerous. Companies work hard to avoid supply chain disasters and ensure that both the cargo and the crew remain as safe as possible. All in all, it is safe to say that mysterious ship disappearances of full-fledged shipping vessels are much more unlikely to happen.
This was a guest post by Jason Godfrey.
Jason Godfrey is a freelance writer who lives to write about fun and peculiar incidents in various industries. And since he used to work in the shipping industry, these topics are particularly appealing to him. In his free time, Jason loves to read, and he is a big cinephile.